Gunnison Magic Homes- Gunnison Homes- United States Steel Homes
I had heard about Gunnison Homes. I had even been in one, when it was listed for sale a while back. But I thought they were just some plain old Pre-Fabricated House from the 1950’s, and not of much interest. But twice this Summer, they came up while I was out and about hunting up Sears and other kit houses.
The first time was in July, when my Mentor, Rebecca Hunter, was visiting my area. We were making a quick trip out early on a Sunday morning to get photos of one of Springfield’s best kit houses, an Aladdin Villa. Our next stop was to pick up Andrew Mutch, who was also visiting, and I drove through a connecting neighborhood to where he was staying. Rebecca, of course, had her eyes peeled for anything that might look like a kit house, even though I knew we were in a 1950’s neighborhood. And then she said “There’s a Gunnison House”. It was actually the one I had been in when it was for sale a while back. And then she taught me something. Not like she isn’t always teaching me something, because she is, but she taught me something about Gunnison Homes. They have a unique feature that is easy to spot from the street. Huh. We’ll get to that shortly.
The second time Gunnison Homes came up was a just a few weeks later when I went to an Open House for A Harris Bros 1517 in Urbana.
I took a copy of the catalog page for the Harris Bros., and gave it to the real estate agent on site at the Open House. She was very interested. We discussed kit houses for a minute, then she said she knew of one in Springfield on Kensington Place. I was skeptical. Kensington Place is in our Ridgewood in the Country Club District, and I hadn’t spotted any kit homes there on my numerous visits to the neighborhood. But she was insistent, and said it was just a little ranch style house, and seemed very out of place on the block. Oh yes! I knew exactly which little house she was talking about. Then I asked her if she thought maybe it was a Gunnison Home. She thought a minute, and said that sounded familiar, but wasn’t sure. So, of course, I had to take a drive past the house, and sure enough, it’s a Gunnison Home.
How did I know so quickly? From that little detail Rebecca Hunter pointed out when she was visiting. Gunnison Homes have a unique design on the chimney, and once you know that, you will be able to easily spot Gunnison Homes, too.
See those two stripes on the chimney? That’s all there is to it.
Now I do have to tell you, you can’t really see that small detail on Google Maps or Bing Maps, so you do have to leave your house, drive around, and look for the houses. And that’s what I did the other day. I spent about an hour and a half driving around the North West Quadrant of Springfield, and I got photos of 18 Gunnison Homes.
But what is a Gunnison Home? Yes, they were pre-fab, but they didn’t come into being in the 1950’s like I thought. The first Gunnisons started being manufactured in 1936, and continued until 1974. They were made from insulated plywood panels that were bolted together at the home site. I’m going to send you to a link that explains them in more detail. No sense repeating what someone else has already taken the time to research and post about. This link has good information. The Gunnison Home If you want to know more, you can just Google them.
From my reading up on them, it looks like they had between 11 and 14 models, depending on the year, and we have a nice selection of those models here in Springfield. The Gunnison Home kits had to be purchased from a Gunnison Dealer, so I am assuming we had one locally. I’ll have to do additional research to see if I can figure out who was selling them.
Before I show you photos of a few of the ones around town, please take a look at this flickr set showing the 1950 Gunnison Homes catalog. Note that you could purchase porches, sun rooms, and garages as add ons.
OK, here’s some of the ones in Springfield. A couple of them still retain their original exterior look, meaning you can tell they were built from panels, but for the most part, the homes have been covered over in newer vinyl siding. Some have been altered so much, that if it wasn’t for those two stripes on the chimney, I never would have known.
If you know of any Gunnison Homes near you, please leave a comment. Just look for that chimney with the two stripes!